It's been a few months since I've posted anything, and a large part of that is because the reading slump is real, y'all. Also, life stuff: I quit my librarian job, moved to L.A., and am starting a new librarian job shortly, so basically time for reading has been cut short. I spent a lot of the summer apartment hunting, packing up all of my worldly belongings (including many, many books), relocating, and job hunting. Luckily the job hunting part has panned out so I can take a break from writing cover letters and resumes and get back to reading and, hopefully, blogging about books. And, since I had such a long summer with barely any books read and Goodreads is yelling at me for being behind my goal, I thought I would share my thoughts on the infamous reading slump and how, hopefully, to recover from said slump.
What is a Reading Slump?
What booknerds dread most, the reading slump, is when you either don't have time to read anything or you aren't motivated to start a new read or you just can't get through a single book to save your life. For those of us who love learning about new worlds, reveling in transportive storytelling, or contemplating the human experience through our love of books, the reading slump is like anti-self care. I always feel a bit off when I haven't read a book that I've enjoyed in awhile, like something is missing. I'm a little grouchy, I feel less motivated overall, and I can feel the stress levels in my body rising. Personally, I like reading because it is my me-time, it is my self-care, and when I don't get to set that time aside for myself, I feel the negative impact throughout my daily life.
Typically, I read about 10-12 books a month. I don't say this to brag about how many books I read, but basically to explain the only way I can make it through my TBR (which is constantly growing), keep up with new releases, and revisit old favorites. I also read lots of different kinds of books that range in length, format, and time investment, so I try to set aside as much reading time possible and make it a priority so I can read the wide variety of books that make me happy. For a bit of perspective in how my summer reading slump has gone, in June I only read 5 books, and in July I only read 3. Books I borrowed from the library and was excited about languished on my shelf. My Book of the Month books, which are awesome new releases that I was super stoked to read, were packed up in boxes. The last book I finished in July was Bitch Planet: Vol. 2 and I just didn't feel motivated to start anything new, despite having a Kindle full of unread books. It was not a good feeling. But in August, after I started getting settled in my new city, I worked my way out of my funk.
Tips for Getting Over It
Tip #1: Read an audiobook
I fully embrace audiobooks as being the same as traditionally reading a book, and honestly think it's a bit ableist to say that it is somehow lesser to listen to a narrator rather than read the print or e-book yourself. You are still investing your time and interest in the story, and that is the most important part of reading in my opinion. An audiobook really helped me get out of my reading slump because as I was unpacking and cleaning my new apartment, I could still read and get done what I needed to get done. The book I chose was The Eyre Affair, because I had listened to an audiobook by the narrator before and really liked her narration style, and I knew it was kind of a light, fun book that would be perfect to read while doing chores. And I finished it! It was one of the first books I finished in August.
Tip #2: Pick up genre fiction
Some readers only read genre fiction and some readers read none but if you are in a reading slump, I highly recommend picking up a fast-paced mystery or romance to get your reading gears turning as opposed to, say, slogging through a 19th century classic to get yourself back into reading. In August, I read Radio Silence by Alyssa Cole (love her writing and, hello, apocalyptic romance) and A Crafty Killing by Lorraine Bartlett (it's got crafts, it's got murder, it's got it all), and both books really helped me get back into my reading groove. Usually romances and mysteries read quickly because you want to find out what happened next, so they are good motivators for taking time to read and finishing a book. I stuck to two books that were a bit shorter in length, as well, because when I finish a book it motivates me to read another.
Tip #3: Read a book that you've seen the movie version of already
Sometimes I get distracted starting a new book if I can't visualize the setting or the characters, and I start checking out. However, if I read a book that I've seen the movie version of, I have a starting place and I can start to focus more on the story and the character development. I already know what is going to happen, but I can immerse myself in the detail that the book can provide that the movie just can't. In my case, I read The Beguiled by Thomas Cullinan, having already seen the Sofia Coppola-directed film version and really enjoying it. Being able to read the book and think about the differences between the book and the film, and reading not to find out what happens next but to really get to know the characters, was a good start for helping me get over my reading slump.
Tip #4: Find your niche and go with it
Every reader has their special book catnip; find the book that ticks all your boxes and dive in! Personally, I love academia, history, and the occult, so I picked up the book The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark on a whim and ended up devouring it, and its' sequel. The book includes all of the things I love; the main character is a professor, there's witches, there's faeries, there's a hot incubus and steamy love scenes, and it takes place in a remote, small town on the East Coast. These things helped immerse me in a world that is so unlike my own that it really sucked me in and made me stick with the book from start to end. So whatever you are into, whether it's historical fiction set with strong female leads or books with werewolf detectives or stories about generational families dealing with their pasts, find that book and take an afternoon to dedicate your time to it. If you're not sure how to find that book, go to your local library and ask a librarian to help you, or check out the different Listopia collections on Goodreads, or even turn to Twitter and ask your fellow readers if they have a recommendation. There is a book for everyone, and if you find one that can appeal to your interests, you'll be more likely to dedicate the time you need to read it.
Tip #5: Don't let the Goodreads Reading Challenge bring you down
I admit that seeing that I am 9 books behind my challenge stresses me out a little bit. Nonetheless, I don't take that little meter too seriously. Reading is more than just completing a challenge; it's about finding books that speak to you and connecting with the story or the information contained within them. So if you are in a reading slump, don't worry about your reading challenge or whatever other challenges you started at the beginning of the year. Just bring it back to basics and start off slow; read because you enjoy it, not because it is something that you "have to" do.